The Spectacular Now's Miles Teller And James Ponsoldt On High School And Weird Sexual Tension
James you clearly have a thing for romances, and Miles you have a lot that you're filming. Obviously you choose things differently, but is there something for each of you that especially appeals for you about romances?
Ponsoldt: I have this weird theory that every single movie is a love story, and it's just finding what that love story is. It's not as literal as "boy meets girl." What is your greatest human need and what does your soul love more than anything else? In movies, the good ones-- it's home, more than anything else. If you can find that love, that's what people connect to. I like fully dimensionalized characters and I like really flawed people failing and then getting back up and then failing. As long as there's some effort to find human connection, whether or not they're together at the end of the movie. The hope is in the trying.
Teller: For me, I had a taste for comedies, I had a taste for drama. The last few things I've done have been comedy oriented. Especially after watching this, that's why I like to do drama. You can affect people. For me it's always honesty. If it's an honest story, comedy or drama, I can attach to it and do it. Everyone likes to fall in love if it's written in a nice way. If you and the co-star have a good chemistry. Me and Shailene have awesome chemistry. It's so relaxing when you have someone you know you can trust, and that no one is trying to steal the scene and you can just play off each other. That's a credit to Shailene's talent.
Did you have to test opposite each other to get that part, since Shailene was already attached?
Ponsoldt: I didn't have him audition. This project had a life long before me. Literally, every young actor in Hollywood, New York, Australia, London-- everybody read for this. Pretty much every actor from 16 to 25 read for this at some point. I got to see that. People auditioned tons, but we went out and got a beer, and talked about partying. I just got a sense of who he was. I had already watched a bunch of interviews of you on Youtube. That was more interesting to me. I knew he could act, but I was more interested in seeing him spontaneously react to peoples' questions. Especially for these parts, I'm interested in finding out who the actors really are as people, and mining that and having it work in the film itself. Giving the actors the freedom to be themselves and taking all the credit for it.
Teller: I think, [Shailene] had like a final yes or no. And I guess she had liked me.
I didn't realize she had that power.
Teller: Oh yeah, she was attached early.
Ponsoldt: I wanted to make the movie, and a lot of it was because of her. I didn't want to be like "Hey, this is your co-star have fun." She was a collaborator, Miles was a collaborator, and she's brilliant. I think great actors, it's not just that they're emotionally available. They're really smart dramaturgs. They understand the DNA of the script and how to do something exciting. But also over the course of a filmography, they make exciting choices. They know what challenges those films present to them, and they know they can hit it out of the park. And if it terrifies them, they know they should stick with it.
Teller: W'ere so different, but we get along pretty well. We have an interesting relationship. I describe it as a sibling relationship with moments of weird sexual tension.
Well, you have an important sex scene so you kind of need that. Teller: Our sex scene, we both took each others' first onscreen virginity, so that will be always in our careers. We were very comfortable and casual in our sex scene. It wasn't awkward or weird or anything.
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